A man face[d] trial [yesterday] for murdering his sleeping roommate by bludgeoning the victim in the head with a hammer. Luis Rosales Rivera, 59, Stanton, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin this afternoon, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, in Department C-28, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
In March 2008, Rivera is accused of having lived in a converted garage in a Stanton home for approximately one year with two other roommates including 63-year-old Miguel Delacruz. The defendant is accused of disliking Delacruz because he believed the victim was disrespectful and bossy.
On March 26, 2008, Rivera is accused of leaving early in the morning for work as a gardener. After work he is accused of briefly returning home and then leaving again for dinner and beers. Rivera is accused of returning home at approximately 9:00 p.m. after his two roommates had fallen asleep.
The defendant is accused of approaching Delacruz as the victim slept and hitting him three times in the head with a large hammer. He is accused of fleeing the scene after murdering the victim.
The third roommate awoke to the sound of the attack and went to the main house to alert the homeowner, who instructed the roommate to leave the house. The homeowner removed the victim’s body from the garage and dragged it into the alley, where it was discovered by neighbors shortly after midnight.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.